Reduction in soft loans will improve access of successful businesses to loans
According to the Belarusian Economy Ministry, in 2017, administrative lending to the economy will be halved as compared with 2016. The estimated amount of administrative loans in 2016 should not exceed BYN 2.8 billion. Simultaneously, enterprises should repay previously issued loans, which exceed this amount. The state is reducing administrative loans in accordance with the commitments to the EEU Anti-Crisis Fund. In 2017, administrative lending should not exceed BYN 1.3 billion. The state is likely to reduce support for key economic sectors. That said, half of agricultural enterprises could become unprofitable; cases of bankruptcy and restructuring of public enterprises could double as compared with 2016. In addition, the state will require additional funds to repay social obligations under labour contracts with employees at distressed companies. Access by successful businesses to credit resources is likely to improve due to the anticipated overall decline in interest rates, albeit social tension may increase due to a new wave of layoffs at troubled enterprises.
The Belarusian authorities have launched a discussion on the moratorium or abolition of the death penalty under the pressure of Belarusian human rights activists and international community. Apparently, the authorities are interested in monitoring public sentiments and response to the possible abolition of the capital punishment. The introduction of a moratorium on the death penalty would depend on the dynamics in Belarusian-European relations, efforts of the civil society organisations and Western capitals.
In Grodno last week, the possibility of abolishing the death penalty in Belarus or introducing a moratorium was discussed.
The Belarusian authorities are likely to continue to support the death penalty in Belarus. During his rule, President Lukashenka pardoned only one person, and courts sentenced to death more than 400 people since the early 1990s. Over the past year, Belarusian courts sentenced to death several persons and one person was executed.
There are no recent independent polls about people’s attitude about the death penalty in Belarus. Apparently, this issue is not a priority for the population. In many ways, public opinion about the abolition of the death penalty would depend on the tone of the state-owned media reports.
That said, the Belarusian Orthodox Church and the Roman-Catholic Church stand for the abolition of the capital punishment, however their efforts in this regard only limit to public statements about their stance. Simultaneously, the authorities could have influenced public opinion about the death penalty through a focused media campaign in the state media. As they did, for example, with the nuclear power plant construction in Astravets. Initially unpopular project of the NPP construction was broadly promoted in the state media, and eventually, according to independent pollsters, was accepted by most population.